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The Hawk Debate

Back in 2008, I took the step to ban certain words here. For example, if you used the word “racist” in a comment, your comment was auto-moderated. The reason was that whoever was operating the Obama campaign had gone on the offensive and insulted and humiliated innocent bloggers and commenters in order to shut them up. They did this by calling the dissenters racists. It didn’t matter whether we had legitimate reasons for refusing to jump on the Obama bandwagon that had nothing to do with race. An accusation of racism is extremely powerful and they knew what they were doing.

There are a few other trigger words that will get you auto-moderated. I leave discovery as an exercise for the reader. Banning the words doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the issue here. It’s just that taking specific words out of the comments section meant that no one can take the easy way out. You can’t just come here, poop in the punchbowl, and leave thinking you’ve done your job putting the old, uneducated working class Roseanne Barrs who flock here (your perception, not mine) in their place. You know, drop the late consensus reality shaping meme, use the buzzword du jour, put mean spirited peer pressure on these people and watch as they all come groveling back to your side. Nah-gah-happen. We didn’t get to 52,000+ page hits per day during the height of the nauseatingly brutal 2008 campaign season because we took the easy way out and ate our poisoned mushrooms so we would fall into line like TalkLeft and Taylor Marsh and The Left Coaster and Digby’s Hullabaloo. No, we watched what was happening, were thoroughly horrified and took it without flinching. 

As time went on, and the insults and aggression piled on, I became even less likely to vote for Obama. So, there, guys (and you were almost all guys). Good job. You pointed out to me that there was almost no level of offense or character assassination that Obama would not sanction. It spoke volumes about who was supporting him and what he was prepared to overlook in the future.

So, now we come to the topic of the day. This is a debate I have been having with Monster of the Id, who I dearly love and have no intention of banning. It’s about the word “hawk” and why it is always applied to Hillary Clinton.

It has become another one of those words. I am getting ready to auto-moderate comments featuring the word. As stated before, you can argue all you want that Hillary is the biggest supporter of the military industrial complex on the planet. But you’re going to have to show your work. You will not be able to just fling that word around willy nilly because that’s what everyone is saying about her.

Let’s recognize this word for what it is. It’s a mental shortcut that bears little resemblance to actual reality. Here’s my latest comment to Monster after he tried, once again, to explain his ambivalence towards Clinton due to her perceived “hawkishness”:

You’re missing the point. You can vote for whoever you damn well please. For all we know, Arkansas will go D in 2016, or Green or Commie. You don’t know what will happen and I don’t either.

The point is, don’t make up your mind based on the consensus reality of your side. That’s what the left did in 2008 and look who got elected? Was Obama the liberal messiah the left wanted? It fell for the whisperings and mental maneuverings and dogwhistles of the Wormtongues.

Wormtongue says that Hillary is a “hawk”. Oh really? In what way is she a hawk? What does it mean to be a hawk? What are the qualities of a hawk? How many military engagements does a person have to vote for in order to get this designation? Why isn’t John Kerry also called a hawk? Is Hillary more or less of a hawk than John Kerry or John Edwards? To what degree? Is she more or less a hawk than Lindsay Graham?

I only ask.

That’s the problem. Too few people on the left ask. They just accept. Well, someone on the left must have studied the problem, some Juan Cole person must have dug up the records and figured it out. There is no doubt in their minds that Hillary is a hawk, based on some criteria, right? Some authority figure who the left trusts did the math.
But what if no one on the left actually did?

What if it’s just a clever earworm planted there by someone with less than honorable intentions? How would you know?

Consistency is key.

Don’t try to get out of the dilemma you’re in by claiming that your vote doesn’t count or making light of it. What counts is whether everyone has an honest, consistent, unobstructed, unfiltered view of the candidate without shortcuts that terminate the thought process with facile categorization.

If she ends up wanting after you have discarded the shortcuts, fine, at least you will have done your job. But don’t cop out and tell me you can’t trust yourself to make those calls on your own.

The left bungled it badly in 2008 because it didn’t bother to do its own thinking. It became as gullibly pliable as the stupid hicks on the right that it always insists are the authoritarian followers who will swallow any moronic, self-defeating message their right wing leaders throw out there. We Conflucians watched as previously smart people on the left fell for love bombing and conversion diaries, peer pressure and trigger words. They did not distinguish themselves.

Don’t let it happen again.

Like I said, you can vote for whoever fills out your dance card. Make a matrix, put the names of the candidates on the Y axis and the issues you care about on the X axis. Check off the boxes, based on what you hear directly from the candidates or have read about from the most neutral sources you can find. Then, vote for the person who gets the most checks on the grid.

One thing I will predict right now: you’re going to have to figure out what the definition of hawk really means before you check that box for Hillary.

Sunday: Ok, I think we’re on to something here

We few, we happy, happy few Conflucians might be a shrieking band of paranoid holdouts, or some such Kossakian nonsense, but we have something the rest of the left blogosphere doesn’t have with few exceptions (corrente, Ian Welsh and Avedon Carol, for example): The pain of independence.  What the heck does that mean?

Well, it’s just a single point right now and I need to collect more data.  (“fricking scientists”, they mutter)

The term “pain of independence” is what psychologists say  people experience when they refuse to conform to peer pressure.  Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” cites a psych experiment where a group of people are shown a couple of 3D objects and are asked to decide whether the first object can be turned into the second.  Think of it as an exercise in group mental paper folding.  You have to turn the object around in your head and look at it from all angles.

There were a couple stand out features of this experiment.  First, the subject didn’t know that the group was seeded with people who knew the right answer but deliberately gave the wrong answer.  The other thing was that everyones’ brains were being monitored. The experimenters already knew in advance that a certain percentage of people were going to go along with the group and give the wrong answer too.  The question that the experimenters were asking was, did the subjects choose the wrong answer because they knew that it was wrong but consciously decided to go with the group to fit in (pointing to the prefrontal cortex) or were their perceptions changed unbeknownst to them (pointing to the parietal and occipital lobes)?

The disturbing answer is that the subject’s perceptions were changed and they weren’t even aware of it.  Yep, peer pressure affects your sense of space.  Maybe this is not entirely mysterious.  A sense of space would seem to be important to how you fit into a group of individuals.  Think of herds or flocks of birds.  People presumably once travelled in such pods before, hundreds of thousands of years ago.  So maybe this is an artifact of that.

The question that next occurred to the experimenters is: what was happening to the brains of the people who didn’t go along with the crowd?  Ahhhh, this is interesting.  It turns out that their amygdala was activated.  The amygdala is the small almond shaped structure located near the middle of the brain that processes emotions.  If you were a holdout, your amygdala lit up indicating the emotion of knowing you were alone on this one.  Sending this signal to the prefrontal cortex is too cold and logical.  No, to be a dissenter means you know the emotional pain of not fitting in.

And that, my friends, appears to distinguish the dissenters from the joiners.  The dissenters appear to be able to tolerate that pain better than the joiners.

If you were a Hillary holdout in 2008, because you had used the rest of your brain to process the information about the candidates, you likely knew the pain that comes with resistance to peer pressure.  And it *is* painful.  No one likes to be left out from that emotional tug that enveloped everyone else.  That’s why love bombing is so effective.  It alleviates the pain of being alone and drops your resistance to peer pressure.  If you attempt to dissent later in the indoctrination process, the love is withdrawn and you know the pain of independence.  It is not pleasant.  Ask the many former Hillary supporters who changed their allegiance in 2008 because they didn’t want to be ostracized.  Oh, yes, the emails I got during that summer when the pain got to be too intense for some people.  Talk about embarrassing.

Cain reports that something like 40% of the people in peer pressure experiments will go along with the group.  It’s hard to believe that there are 60% of us who won’t because we always seem to be on the losing end.  On the other hand, our elections have been really close over the past 12 years.  Gore actually won, Kerry probably did, we know that Hillary beat Obama in the primaries by a slim margin in spite of the horrific peer pressure tactics.  So, there are more people resisting than it appears but the bad guys keep winning anyway.  I suspect that’s because there are a lot more people who experience the pain of independence than care to admit.

According to Cain, the reason why democracies exist is because  of the dissenters.  That would be the 2008 PUMAs who were mocked and humiliated, and the Occupiers who were treated like radical, lice ridden troublemakers.  And maybe I shouldn’t be surprised to have counted myself in both groups’ numbers.  A Jehovah’s Witness child knows all too well the pain of independence from the group.  We have been brought up to be isolated.  Our very first day in the classroom is a lesson in dissent when we are instructed by our parents to not salute the flag.  (when I think about it, it’s a shitty thing to do to a 5 year old, but I digress.)  Our amygdalas have been exercised so much throughout our childhoods that we are used to the sensation, even if it is still unpleasant.  We realize that we aren’t going to die of embarrassment or ridicule if we don’t go along with the crowd.  I’ve said in the past that my purpose here at The Confluence is to give people a place where it is safe to be unpopular.  I knew it was important but until today, I didn’t know why.  Same with Lambert, Avedon and Ian.

The left blogosphere might want to think about that for awhile.  If it thinks that nothing it does makes a difference to the powers that be, maybe it should try dissenting and allow the pain of independence work its magic.  DON’T say you’re going to vote for the bastards even if they treat you like shit.  And then mean it. They’re counting on you to go along with the crowd in order to alleviate that pain and fear.  Peer pressure only works if you let it.  And those of us who have resisted from the beginning can’t reason with you to make you see our point of view.  Resisting peer pressure is something you need to come to grips with on an emotional level your own.  It *is* painful but worth it when your thoughts are your own. It’s sometimes physically disorienting and nauseating, I won’t lie to you. People aren’t going to like you.  They’re going to call you stupid or mentally ill.  They’ll say they were wrong about you and you’re not as sexy and smart as they thought you were.  They’ll tell you that you will bring Armageddon down on everyone’s head if you let the Republicans win.  They know how the brain game works because they’ve read the studies and it’s always worked this way.  If you give in to them, they win and they can do whatever they like because they know you will go along in order to feel good about yourself.

They need you more than you need them.  They still need the momentum of the crowd, the frenzy of the mob, the mounting pressure as the election gets nearer.  They need your vote.  If you refuse it, you monkeywrench their entire peer pressure apparatus and then they have to start paying attention to you and addressing your demands.  They’d rather not have to do that.  They have other people to win over.  It’s easier for them to know that they have checked you off their list so they can move on to tougher nuts.  Don’t make it easy for them.

Accept the pain of independence, learn to dissent and triumph over them.  Think of it this way, dissenting is the best way to preserve our democracy.  That’s an idea that is worthy of the pain.

********************************

The dissenter’s theme song since 2008:

 

To Masslib: We do not bow to peer pressure

Somehow, Masslib, one of our own, has decided that we are supporters of John McCain.  She also seems to think that she needs to convert us for our own good.  I would like to disabuse Masslib of these two notions.

1.) My candidate is no longer in this race.  Therefore, I am confronted by two equally unacceptable alternatives.  But there is no rule that says I MUST vote for a name on the top of the ticket.  I can skip that section if I choose.  OR, I can do a protest vote.  I could choose John McCain because I do not wish to reward bad behavior.  This is my right.  I am quite at ease with ambiguity.  What will be will be but I will not contribute to my own demise by throwing my lot in with a corrupt politician even if he is a member of my own party.

2.) I grew up with a religiously fanatical mother.  I have seen every form of emotional manipulation there is to get me to crack and become her kind of Christian.  It is impossible for me to substitute my own judgment with yours, masslib.  I suspect there are a lot of other people on this board who are immune to conversion as well.  When our hearts and minds tell us that Obama is bad news, we have to pay attention to them. My heart and mind tell me it would be as wrong to vote for Obama as it is to vote for George W. Bush.  I can’t do it to make you happy.  I won’t do it just because a Republican will be in office for 4 more years.

There is a certain kind of peer pressure that is annoying to the point of being harrassment.  That is where we are now.  We have heard every argument for voting for Obama and none of them have proven to be very convincing except that he is not a Republican.  And lo and behold, the *Republican* in this case seems to be more amenable to Democratic ideas than the actual Democrat.  With Obama, I get a corrupt politician who will scream “RACISM” everytime the media or others criticize something they don’t like.  We will be held hostage to accusations of racism used as weapons against us.  Obama doesn’t represent the average Democrat.  He represents whoever is bankrolling him, emphasis on bank.  And if he gets elected, Hillary may never have a crack at the office she deserved.

John McCain is not a saint and he is a Republican but he strikes me as a guy who tries to do the right thing, even if it makes him unpopular.  He stuck with his committment to campaign finance reform, he took public campaign funds and he seems to be receptive to ideas that are outside his comfort level.  Do I want to vote for him?  Heck no.  I wanted Hillary and I am profoundly disappointed that she isn’t running.  But this is where we are.  And I am not voting for Obama to please other people.  I have to please myself.  I have to live with myself.

Many of us PUMAs are perfectly comfortable in our own skin with our own decisions.  We don’t want others pestering us about Obama anymore.  We aren’t interested in poll results.  Obama supporters who come here to try to depress turnout or convert us are wasting their time.  We simply do not care what you think of us.  We have been called stupid, old, uneducated, ridiculous females, a shrieking horde of paranoid holdouts, racists, traitors and Republicans.  Oddly enough, this has not made us want to vote for Obama.

The world will go on, no matter what we’re called.  And if Obama loses on Nov. 4, I will be the first to say, “Good!”  You can blame me, scream at me, jump up and down throw a fit, ostracize me, I really don’t give a flying fig.  I will live through it and so will the others on the many dozens of blogs like this one.

It is regrettable that we have grown apart but I’m sure we will both survive.  And the next time the party tries to pull this $#%^, I hope they will think twice as to whether it was worth it.

Now, masslib and people who gave in to peer pressure can say that Obama is going to win but I have enough emails from the party that suggest that plans to launch a full out attack to pressure us into voting for Obama.  If he were doing that well, the upcoming psychological warfare would be unneccesary.  So, please stop the annoying pro-Obama blather.  We aren’t buying it and we don’t care.

We’re not trying to be mean.  We are just being firm.